May Camping Weekend
Friday evening saw us rolling up at White Hill Farm Caravan Park, Pitton, in warm sunshine ready for a weekend’s riding around the Hampshire/Wiltshire borders. Great excitement at Richard and Hilary’s two-day-old motorhome and some dismay from Philip as he realised he’d come without his cycling shorts. Ken to the rescue with a spare pair.
Saturday’s hilly ride to Winchester started with a long downhill, picking up the River Dun to Dunbridge then on to Mottisfont village where we stopped for a look at the Millenium Orchard. Arm warmers came off at this point as the day was warming up nicely. Coffee was at the very welcoming Braishfield Pantry (excellent cake!) before we tackled the ups and downs to Winchester, winding through the ancient backstreets to park next to the Cathedral green. Lunch eaten and cathedral admired it was off again, up another hill in search of shorts for Phil (no luck) then back on the westerly route to Sparsholt, and Kings Somborne (Where did all those motorcycles come from? And why are their number plates covered up?!) Then criss-crossing over the Test and a first ascent of the hill at Bossington before reaching the Winterslows – another hill – and, joy of joys, the 14% ascent back to the campsite at Pitton. A long, hard ride but cake seemed to restore enough energy to get us down to The Silver Plough for an evening of skittles and lasagne. Not sure which team won but the lasagne was great!
50 miles, 2600 ft
Sunday’s ride was gentler with an amble through the delightful, and delightfully named, Wallops (Nether, Middle and Upper) to coffee at the Museum of Army Flying. Nothing was flying, sadly. Lunch was only a short ride away at the Hawk Conservancy Trust, just to the west of Andover, (nothing flying here either) then we headed off through Monxton, down Danebury Down and back up other side before swooping down to the Test valley where we followed the river to Houghton Lodge for tea and ice creams. The route then covered a section of the previous day’s ride, including that hill at Bossington, but this time we stopped at the top to admire the view. Very beautiful it was, too! Trundling through Stony Batter and West Tytherley, we came to Bentley Wood - carpeted in bluebells – then Farley and the long climb back to Pitton. No cycle shops en route so still no shorts for Phil, but there was plentiful tea and cake, followed by a lovely warm evening with the swallows diving around (finally, something flying) as the sun set.
46 miles, 2076ft
Monday started hot and got even hotter as we rode to Salisbury for coffee. Phil and Verna left us at this point to take the shorter route back while the rest of the group headed north along the Avon (Sustrans route 45) to lunch at Amesbury. Leaving the town we had a quick divert to find the statue of The Archer, http://www.fireandiron.co.uk/amesbury-archer/, then skirted Boscombe Down Airfield on a track and quiet road to Porton Down, which really was a bit of a slog in the afternoon heat. Liz and Ken decided to hit the quicker route back, with the short, sharp hill at the end, whilst the rest of us took the longer climb up to Middle Winterslow, through Farley again and back up to Pitton on the slow road. Time to break camp!
36 miles, 1767 ft
A lovely weekend with amazing weather, hills, pretty villages, thatched cottages, more hills and wonderful views.
Rachel & Russell